4 Iyar 5781 / Friday, April 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Tazria - Metzora
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Review the Risk Profile First    

Review the Risk Profile First

Everyone searches for a win-win opportunity. What about a lose-lose opportunity that has no potential for gain? Yet everyone is buying in...


The reality is that there have been, and there will be always, all sorts of machlokot – arguments, fights and controversies – until Moshiach comes. 


A Lose-Lose Situation 

The Gemara in Sanhedrin tells the story of how the wife of On ben Pelet saved him from being killed along with Korach and his group. She asked her husband, “What do you stand to gain from this? Whether the leader is Moshe or Korach, you are still only going to be a student. Why get involved?” 


So I ask each one of you: What do you gain from speaking? 


Okay fine – let’s say you are right, and that the information you want to relate is true. What did you gain by speaking negatively about a bad person? If you believe that there is a Creator who guides the world and judges us, then you know that G-d can certainly deal with this situation on His own. He does not need your help! You spoke absolute lashon hara (negative speech that is true) – which the Gemara says is as if you committed all three cardinal sins - murder, sexual immorality and idol worship!  


And what if you are wrong? In that case, you spoke not lashon hara but motzei shem ra (slander, literally “creating a bad name”) about an upright person? Oy va voy for  you!  Oy  va  voy  for you!  


What do you stand to gain by sticking your head into an argument that has nothing to do with you? Only sins – really bad, and much worse! 


Don’t tell me it is l’toelet  for a constructive purpose. The street is not a Beit Din (Jewish court of law) and you are not a judge! You must fulfill all the laws of reporting toelet according to the Chofetz Chaim, which is very difficult to do and generally does not apply whatsoever to the controversies everyone is speaking about. 


I just learned this last week in the Chofetz Chaim, that people think that if words of lashon hara were spoken in public before at least 3 people (which includes online), then it is permitted to repeat those words without worrying about the prohibition of speaking evil speech. This is totally incorrect! It is absolutely forbidden to repeat such evil speech, even if it was discussed in public!  


There is absolutely no leniency to discuss even something that is widely known. People think that it is permitted to discuss what they read in the news. This is false! There is no leniency whatsoever to discuss what is written about in the news etc. Anyone who speaks about what he read or heard must know that he is transgressing serious Torah prohibitions – both positive and negative. 


It once happened that people came to Rabbi Natan of Breslev who were involved in a controversy. They told him, “No, in this situation it is a mitzvah to talk! People have to know about what happened!” Rabbi Natan replied, I don’t want mitzvot like this at all! I don’t want anything to do with the “mitzvot” of joining arguments and controversy!”  


Because really such “mitzvot” are just foolishness. 



The Deepest Wisdom 

Let’s return to On ben Pelet. On explains to his wife that he already joined the controversy and swore that he would come to the next confrontation with Moshe Rabbeinu. His wife responded that the entire congregation is holy - just stay home, and I will save you. So, he went to sleep, and she sat next to the opening of the tent and started combing her exposed hair. Each person who came to call her husband left, because she was revealing her hair against Jewish law.  


We see from here that everyone used to guard their eyes! You cannot look at women and blemish your eyes. Absolutely not! These men who joined Korach’s rebellion said to themselves, “What do we want with this guy anyway, whose wife sits here combing her hair like this? What an immodest woman!” They were involved in the worst sin possible, and even they would not look at an immodest woman! 


So, those men went into the ground alive, and On was saved. 


We learn from On’s wife, that a woman’s wisdom builds her house. Not just her wisdom in how she saved her husband – but also her wisdom in knowing not to get involved in controversies. 



Get a Life! 


Already from when I was a young man in Yeshiva, I realized that people who speak lashon hara are not connected to the purpose in life. Because when someone is connected to their purpose, they have no time to speak! 


I want to know the entire Talmud by heart. I want to know the entire Code of Jewish Law by heart too, and review it every month as Rabbi Yosef Caro zt”l instructed us to do. I want to learn Zohar, and of course learn the Torah portion in depth every week with all of the commentaries and Midrashim. Don’t forget an hour of personal prayer every day, plus to pray at least one Shemonei Esrei a day for an hour, and Tehillim, and Chok Todah and of course, to be completely clean of all bad character traits and bodily lusts. 


That goes for women too! Every day, to read Psalms, one hour of personal prayer, learn from a book on emuna… 


You should have such a plan for your life that you’ve got your work cut out for you for the next one thousand years! In another one thousand years talk to me, then maybe I’ll have five minutes to listen to you… maybe then I’ll find the time to take my head out of the Torah and into a newspaper or webpage for even a few minutes… 


It just shows how someone who talks, listens, reads, or comments, is so incredibly far from the truth and a real purpose to his life. 


There is so much to do during our short stay in this world. Maximize every moment for prayer, learning Torah and helping others. You’ve got nothing to gain from speaking, and everything to lose – in this world, and the next. 


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